Despite a ravaged past the Kingdom of Cambodia remains one of Asia’s most enthralling destinations. A country deeply enriched in its history and culture, it never fails to impress even the most seasoned traveller. From the deserted beaches on the Gulf of Thailand, to the exotic senses generated during a visit to Phnom Penh, from the deep jungles and minorities of the northwest, to the final mystique and grandeur of the Angkorean period in all its glory, Cambodia is a land of warm, enigmatic people maintaining the richness of their culture for the world to see.
With two Raffles International properties the Grand Hotel d’Angkor in Siem Reap and Le Royal Hotel in Phnom Penh, the Amansara, Sofitel Royal Angkor Golf & Spa Resort, Le Meridien Angkor, Hotel de la Paix, the Orient Express hotel La Residence d’Angkor and Victoria Angkor Resort & Spa hotels in Siem Reap it is possible to see the great sights of Cambodia in unabated luxury and in the style and elegance of an era long past.
Nobody leaves Cambodia disappointed. The exotic land of the Angkor Kings lies waiting to be explored.
Traveling in Cambodia
Traveling in Cambodia is easy and there are many different ways to go from A to B. Both, Phnom Penh and Siem Reap are famous for their oversupply on Remok’s and motorbikes. When leaving the hotel or restaurant most of the time there a driver will already be waiting for you. In the smaller cities where not so many tourists can be found Remok’s are rather rare.
Still, supposedly any other Cambodian owns a motorbike so there will always be the possibility to go around the cities.
A visit to Cambodia wouldn’t be complete if you hadn’t done an overland through the country and to do this there are a lot of possibilities. Today there are operated flights from Phnom to Siem Reap almost every 4 hours and for those who like an airfare can also charter a helicopter from either Phnom Penh or Siem Reap to Sihanoukville or any other destination in Cambodia. Frankly the more interesting way of traveling throughout the country is overland by car or bus.
For tourists who would like to try the public local transport – which is an opportunity to get to know the country from a different perspective – it is always being advised to book two seats in a bus or even a taxi in order to get the least bit of comfort as the front seat in a taxi for example would have to be shared if not booked exclusively.
For those who are really looking for an adventure a train ride through the country it is. The railway network has been installed by the French almost 100 years ago and hasn’t probably been renovated yet. A ride therefore is really bumpy and trains often have a lot of delay facing problems like cows, people, or smaller bamboo trains on the road.
Destinations in Cambodia
From the white sanded beaches of Sihanoukville in the south, to the jungle villages of Rattanakiri in the east and from the largest fresh water lake South East Asia’s – the Tonle Sap Lake – to the impressing world wonders of Siem Reap – Angkor Wat, the colorful country of Cambodia with its friendly and welcoming charm offers its visitors a variety of things to see, venues to be visited and experiences to be made.
Surely the best known and most visited destination in Cambodia is the world-renowned Angkor. These stunning temples are witnesses of the amazing history of the Khmer and are attracting more and more visitors from all over the world each year. But Angkor is just one piece of the Cambodia experience as this beautiful country will offer so much more to its guests.
The breath taking white sanded beaches of Sihanoukville with the beautiful islands along the coastline are the perfect setting for a wonderful beach holiday in one of the new high class hotels.
A totally different world is waiting in the much less touristy influenced province of Rattanakiri. With its undiscovered jungles, the diversity of species and people who are still living in the bosom of nature, this part of the country tells a story of a Cambodia 100 years ago as time seems to stand still.
The perfect stopover for city tourism is Phnom Penh. This city was once the most beautiful and modern as well as charming city in Southeast Asia and has kept most of it until today. The beautiful French colonial buildings which have been renovated in the last years, the Mekong River flowing through the city and surely the kings palace make Phnom Penh a must seen city.
Without a doubt Cambodia offers everything for everyone just come and discover yourself. But what is it that makes Cambodia so unique and outstanding? Find out right now, click through the destinations and pick out your personal favorites.
Corporate Travel in Cambodia
When planning meetings and incentives one should automatically think of Cambodia as a land of golden opportunities where nothing seems impossible. With high class luxury hotels, good meeting facilities, an improved and convincing infrastructure and a rich historical background, Cambodia surely shows its high MICE potential.
Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions in Siem Reap.
The major attraction and an interesting and stunning experience are the Temples of Angkor in Siem Reap. Siem Reap, the capital of tourism in Cambodia features the best hotels of the country, combining a mixture of old Khmer charm and new tourist thinking. It is not only the gateway to the amazing adventure of Angkor but also the perfect location for your MICE activities as it is able and has the facilities to host events for groups of nearly all sizes.
Regardless of being a combination with Thailand, Vietnam, Laos or a luxurious and beautiful event on its own, Cambodia offers the breathtaking sights and the perfect and classy service of a country which is hungry and thankful for every guest visiting it. With its high standards Siem Reap nowadays is able to compete with any other destination in the world offering comparatively small prices for excellent value.
Incentive and Team-building options
Visiting the temples of Angkor is an experience of a lifetime, climbing up the tomb of one of the kings of the Khmer empire – Angkor Wat – and exploring one of the greatest high cultures that have ever existed. Enjoying a helicopter flight over the impressive temples or an elephant ride through one of the formerly biggest cities in the world – Angkor Thom. A quad safari through the paddy fields and the countryside, a cruise on the freshwater lake Tonle Sap or a sunset at the temples, everything is possible.
Just imagine a candlelit dinner within the temples of Angkor – torches lighting the way through the dark, ancient warriors guarding your way, drummers and dancer’s performing cultural dances, elephants standing on the pathway, monks chanting and in front of you an illuminated and amazingly beautiful temple. Truly a temple dinner is the one and only experience you can enjoy in Cambodia.
Cambodia is the land of golden opportunities because where else in the world is it possible to have a meeting in the morning, a cruise on the largest freshwater floodplain in the afternoon and an unforgettable dinner within a temple in the evening.
Regardless if you are searching for high class accommodation, perfect meeting facilities, beautiful excursions, team building activities, fantastic dinner venues or just time for recreation our destination Management team will design and deliver an event exceeding all your expectations offering the best service and hospitality.
Phnom Penh City tour
This tour combines the attractions of the Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda and the National Museum. Visit the Royal Palace, which was built in 1866 by King Norodom. The Palace is actually a number of structures within a pagoda-style compound. Silver Pagoda located within the Royal Palace compound, the name is caused by its floor, which is made of 5,000 silver tiles. The treasures are a solid gold Buddha encrusted with 9,584 diamonds and weighing 90kilos and a small 17th century emerald and baccarat crystal Buddha. Next visit the National Museum, which houses Khmer art especially sculptures, from different periods of Cambodian history, 19th century dance costumes, royal barges and palanquins. A visit is also made to Tuol Tom Pong market, known by many as the Russian market, before returning to the hotel.
Colonial Architecture in Phnom Penh
Take a guided stroll through the former French Colonial Quarter, lunch by the Tonle Sap River and continue to other buildings of historical note. Central Post Office, Central Police Station, Bank and former Chamber of Commerce, National Library, Railway Station, Ministry of Finance.
Phnom Penh City tour with lunch
This tour combines the attractions of the Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda and the National Museum. A visit is also made to Tuol Tom Pong market, known by many as the Russian market, before stopping for lunch at one of the many local restaurants along the Tonle Sap waterfront.
In the afternoon, visit Tuol Sleng, the former detention centre of the Khmer Rouge, and now a museum standing testament to their horrific crimes. Thereafter drive south of the city to Choeung Ek, known to many as the Killing Fields. It is here that mass graves were found after the Khmer Rouge were driven from power in 1979.
Phnom Da & Tonle Bati
Visit Phnom Da, a temple which was constructed on a small mountain. It was built in the 6th century by the King Rut Trak Varman. Phnom Da is one of the ancient historical places in Cambodia. Continue to visit Tonle Bati (Ta Phrom’s temple), from the 12th century, as well as Yeay Peau. Ta Phrom is a very beautiful temple maintained well with flowers and trees. It was built by the King Jayavarman VII on the place of a sanctuary of the 7th century.
Transfer to Uodong by National Road N0 5. Oudong, was an ancient capital from the later stages of the Khmer Empire and crowning site of the. Udong offers spectacular views of the surrounding country and the innumerable sugar palm trees that punctuate the countryside. King Ang Dung, the great grandfather of the present king; King Sihanouk, was crowned here and many locals and foreign residents alike picnic here on weekends.
Angkor Thom & Angkor Wat
This morning, you will visit the monumental magnificence of Angkor Thom – last capital of the Khmers, with its Elephant Terrace, the Terrace of the Leper King and the stunning Bayon temple. This 12th century masterpiece lies at the very centre of Angkor Thom and is an archaeological wonder of symmetry and grandeur. The exterior gallery walls have extensive bas-reliefs but the highlight is the ?faces?, more than 200 of them, silent but with the famous half-smile playing on their lips. PJ de Beerski wrote of them; ?Godliness in the majesty and the size, mystery in the expression.? Lunch at a local restaurant. In the afternoon, you will visit Angkor Wat, the largest temple in the world, with a volume of stone equaling that of the Cheops pyramid in Egypt. It is unlike all the other Khmer temples in that it faces west, and is inspired by 12th Century Hinduism. Its symmetrical towers are stylized on the modern Cambodian flag. Conceived by Suryavarman II, Angkor Wat took an estimated 30 years to build. It is generally believed to have been a funeral temple for the king. It has been occupied continuously by Buddhist monks and is well preserved. Intricate bas-reliefs surround Angkor Wat on four sides. Each tells a story. The most celebrated of these is the Churning of the Ocean of Milk, which is located on the east wing. In it the Naga serpent, is twisted by demons and gods to spurt out the elixir of life. Sunset at Angkor Wat.
Beng Melea & Banteay Srey
In the morning, you will drive to visit Beng Mealea, “Lotus Pond” Temple from the early 11th Century built by Suryavarman II asa Hindu Temple, about 2 hours drive from Siem Reap. If there is one temple to explore resplendent with jungle engulfing it, it is Beng Mealea. Clambering over large sandstone blocks to reach the inner sanctuary and eerie worship corridor is an exploration to remember. Situated 60 km east of Angkor Wat, through traditional countryside life, over bumpy laterite roads, Beng Mealea is a temple hidden in a maze of jungle. Architecturally, Beng Mealea is noted for its innovative, in its time, construction of hallways, it was a very large temple with wide galleries foreshadowing Angkor Wat. Garudas, hold up an outer platform, finer in detail than those to be found out in the elements of the Elephant Terrace at Angkor Thom. Surprises of fallen lintels with intricate carvings lay amongst the fallen wall and roofs. Afternoon, on the way back to Siem Reap town, you will visit Banteay Srei; the citadel of women – a tiny, enchanting temple, which is one of the jewels in this remarkable city. Built of red sandstone in the tenth century and dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, the carved male and female figures in the niches are exquisitely executed in both style and proportion. This is the most Indian of all the temples in Angkor and in the words of H.W. Ponder, is a fairy palace in the heart of an immense and mysterious forest. Continue to Visit Banteay Samre.
Island in the sun
This morning, our guide will pick you from hotel to board the boat to Koh Kteas Island. Time for some snorkeling or fishing. Carry on to Koh Rusey (Bamboo island) where there is time for relaxing, swimming and a light lunch on a beautiful white sandy beach. Leave Koh Rusey to Koh Chralos.
Boat back to Sihanoukville.
Take the opportunity to visit the fishing village and see how the local fishermen make their lives. Afterwards transfer to Ream National Park and take a trekking tour through the park. Arrive at the beach and enjoy and relax with a light BBQ lunch. Later that day we drive to the impressing Kbal Chhay water fall.
Sihanoukville and Environs
Drive to the Intra Ngean Pagoda for views over the town, continue to Independence Beach and Ocheuteal Beach, a long sweep of snow white sand facing the typically calm waters of the Gulf of Thailand. A break here for a short stroll along the beach at leisure and a cool drink under the shade of the pine trees. A stop at a local market to see Khmer commerce at first hand. Passengers may wander the stalls and perhaps purchase a traditional Krama – the colorful Cambodian headscarf so commonly worn by all Khmers. Prior to returning to the ship stop at the fishing village of Tumnuk Rolok where the fresh catch of the day is hauled in prior to finding its way to the seafood markets and restaurants of Phnom Penh. With the brightly painted fishing vessels and local people going about their daily tasks it can be quite a photogenic sight and provides some insight into the simple but important livelihood of this fishing town.
Cambodia Popular Tours
Poi Pet – Battambang – Siem Reap
A wonderful 2 day excursion starting at Poi Pet when crossing the border from Thailand to Cambodia. Visit the ruin temple of Ek Phnom and stay overnight in Battambang. After a walking tour through the old colonial town take a boat on river Sang Keo to Siem Reap and discover the beauty of the green rice paddies and Cambodia?s countryside.
Boat transfer from Battambang to Siem Reap only possible from November to February
Overland transfer to the border of Thailand
Depart from Sihanoukville by National Road No 4 and continue by Road No 48 on your way to the Thai border. Enjoy the beautiful landscape on the way to Koh Kong. Upon arrival in Koh Kong, transfer to your hotel for check in or crossing the border to Thailand via the border of Cham Yeam.
Overland transfer from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap
Departure from Phnom Penh by national Road 6 to Kampong Thom. Upon arrival in Kampong Thom, lunch at local restaurant. After lunch, you will visit Pre-Angkorien Temples of Sambor Prei Kuk’s temples, certainly the most beautiful examples of the Pre-Angkorien art of the 7th century (615–650AC); more than hundred temples in a luxuriant vegetation. Many are in ruins and some of them are sustains by roots of chees monger as wood sculpting. Sambor Prei Kuk is the deep Cambodia and a very quiet and charming place, is located about 30 Km from Kampong Thom.
Back to Kompong Thom for lunch at local restaurant, and then continue toward to Siem Reap by passing over and alongside ancient laterite bridges, the town of Kampong K?dei.. Upon arrival, you will transfer direct to hotel for check in.
Overland transfer from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville
Departure from Phnom Penh by National Road No 4 to Sihanouk ville. On the half-way, you will stop at Pich Nil, 4 dozens of spirit houses line the road. Many of the houses are maintained for Ya-Mao, the deity who oversees the southern coastal region of Cambodia. When traveling National Road No 4, Cambodian people often display bananas on their dashboard and offer the bananas, incense and a little money to Ya-Mao. The offerings are usually made with the prayer for safe travels.
Upon arrival in Sihanoukville, transfer direct to your hotel for check in.
Overland transfer from Phnom Penh to Koh Kong
Departure from Phnom Penh by National Road No 4, and on the half-way, you will stop at Pich Nil, 4 dozens of spirit houses line the road. Many of the houses are maintained for Ya-Mao, the deity who oversees the southern coastal region of Cambodia. When traveling National Road No 4, Cambodian people often display bananas on their dashboard and offer the bananas, incense and a little money to Ya-Mao. The offerings are usually made with the prayer for safe travels. You will continue by Road No 48 and enjoy much beautiful view on the way to Koh Kong. Upon arrival in Koh Kong, transfer direct to your hotel for check in or crossing to Thailand via Cham Yeam border.
Overland transfer from Phnom Penh to Kep or Kampot
Pick up from Hotel in Phnom Penh and transfer to Kep via Kamport by overland. On the way to Kampot, you will visit a cave at Kampong Trach, there is along cave that we can go through to the La Ang Viel Sre 100 and La Ang Thmar Dos. At these natural wells, there are some evidences remain which prove that the wells were the main filming place before the 70th decade. At the front valley, there is a pagoda of Chinese and Vietnamese. In front of the cave, there is a Cambodian pagoda, which has been now maintained and arranged by the pagoda committee permanently. Continue to Kep and direct to hotel for check in.
Free at leisure time in Kep/Kampot.
Overland transfer from Phnom Penh to Battambang
Departure from Phnom Penh to Battambang (291km National Road No 5). On the way to Battambang, you will visit Oudong was an ancient capital from the latter stages of the Khmer Empire and crowning site of the king is located atop two parallel ridges 40 km north of Phnom Penh. Udong offers spectacular views of the surrounding country and the innumerable sugar palm trees that punctuate the countryside. King Ang Dung, the great grandfather of the present king; King Sihanouk, was crowned here and many locals and foreign residents alike picnic here on weekends.
Continue to Kampong Chhnang, you will also visit pottery village and floating village. Upon arrival in Battambang, transfer direct to hotel for check in.
Sihanoukville Beach Escape
2 Nights at Sihanoukville; the hidden beach playground of Cambodia, lies some 220 kms south west of Phnom Penh. The area is a popular weekend escape for many Phnom Penh’ites, who come to enjoy the pristine beaches and sample the abundant local seafood.
The road journey to Sihanoukville passes through the lushly forested Elephant Mountains and continuous plantations of rice, fruit and sugar palm, a common symbol of rural Cambodia. With its natural and clean environment, and improving infrastructure, Sihanoukville has been designated as the gateway port to the country’s various attractions. The town is spread around a deep water bay surrounded by deserted islands and the still clear waters of the Gulf of Thailand. Due to relative isolation from commercial foreign investment, and a low population, the environment remains pristine and untouched, with many of the islands and mainland hills roaming with monkeys and wildlife. Boat transfers to the islands along the coastline can be arranged upon request.
Siem Reap – Battambang – Siem Reap
A bumpy drive through the country side, stopping at a roadside Stone Carving Village, refreshment stop in Sisophon Town, continuing through the outer areas of the rice production bowl of Cambodia, a local market on the way as the shady trees either side of the road herald the approach to Battambang. The second biggest city in Cambodia with its colonial charm still intact. The former Lord Governor’s Residence and other buildings still exist in their grounds. Uncluttered by shops and other modern development Battambang is an architectural and dynamic agricultural centre. Private tours of a Rice Mill, 19th Century Wat and a charming drive through a Cham minority community coupled with the traditional tour of Temples. Two nights in Battambang to try the local restaurants and sunset drinks on the Sangke Riverfront.
River Cruising in Cambodia
With the majestic Mekong River, the source of life not only for the environment but also for the Cambodian people, flowing right through the country, and Tonle Sap Lake located near the centre of the country; Cambodia is the perfect destination for tourists interested in cruising along its rivers and across its lakes. Floating villages and many often overlooked spots along the rivers await you. Enjoy a cruise and get to know this beautiful country from a totally different perspective.
Phnom Penh – Siem Reap (vise versa)
Explore and experience the Cambodian countryside on this amazing 3 days/ 2 nights river cruise from the capital Phnom Penh to the modern city of Siem Reap with its breathtaking World Heritage of Angkor.
Start from Phnom Penh to Kompong Chhnang and visit some local villages en route. Lunch on board, before visiting the renowned pagoda of Kampong Tralach. Overnight on board before you continue your explorer tour on the Tonle Sap River.
Stop off at the local market of Kopong Chhnang before the river meets the great Tonle Sap Lake – the largest freshwater floodplain in the world. Visit the largest floating village on the lake and get to know the local life. The next day you will do a relaxing cruise on Tonle Sap before arriving at Siem Reap in the early afternoon.
Siem Reap – Saigon
Take an amazing boat trip from the city of the temples Siem Reap to the beautiful capital of Vietnam – Saigon. You are starting your 8 days/7 nights adventure from Siem Reap crossing the great Lake Tonle Sap and visit some of the, by tourists almost overlooked, floating villages en route. These villages feature everything a “normal” village would feature; from supermarkets to pagodas and from police stations to karaoke bars, everything is on the water. Continue your boat tour to some hidden villages only to be reached by boat and arrive at Phnom Penh the capital of Cambodia on day number 3.
After sightseeing tours to the Royal Palace, Tuol Sleng, and the Killing Fields you will leave this former jewel of the Southeast Asian peninsula heading downstream the Mekong River.
Take some time on board and try to spot some freshwater dolphins famous for this part of the Mekong River and enjoy some relaxing hours just watching the countryside and the people flowing by. After reaching the impressive Mekong Delta and visiting the partly old colonial cities with their big and lively markets you will reach Saigon on day 8 of your cruise.
There are barely nations to find in the world which are so closely connected to their history as the Khmer. Despite their sad and destructive history of war and terror regimes the Khmer haven’t lost their self confidence regarding themselves as the descendants of the artificers of Angkor.
From the high ruling royal culture of the Angkorian times to the riots and wars with Vietnam, Thailand and the US, Cambodia has gone through a lot of different phases in their history.
The bloom of Cambodia, the time of Angkor from the late 9th century until the middle of the 15th century, with its amazing temples and cities like Angkor Thom, a royal metropolis with more than a million inhabitants, Cambodia used to be one of the early high powers in Southeast Asia, a proud and free country.
Successful and capable emperors were ruling over metropolis with more than a million inhabitants, unique dimensions all over the world for the ancient era. Not to mention Angkor Wat a stunning temple and tomb for king Suryavarman II, builder of many of the ancient temples and masterpieces of that time, which are even today popular all over the world.
After the fall of the Angkorian empire Cambodia has always been endangered to be conquered and taken over by either Vietnam or Thailand. Due to this one could almost speak of a historical period regarding the still continuing tensions between these countries.
If the French hadn’t declared Cambodia their protectorate in 1863 surely Cambodia would be split among Thailand and Vietnam nowadays.
The almost 100 years of French reign over Cambodia helped the country to gain peace and blossom out again. Not only typical art-deco houses and villas were built, but also a complete railroad network throughout Cambodia linking the east to the west and the north to the south.
Sihanoukville at the coastline was discovered to become “the Riviera of the east” being a sophisticated retreat for the French and rich Khmer. The capital of Phnom Penh developed and became one the most ambitious metropolis in Southeast Asia.
Followed by the upcoming communism in the 1950’s in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia sadly the country opened another dark chapter of history. However, communism wasn’t actually following the ideas of Marx’s or Lenin but can be regarded as nationalism against the colonial powers to loosen the chains.
Cambodia now even went through more problems and queries with their neighboring countries and the ruling of the Khmer Rouge.
Hopefully the Khmer Rouge, led by Pol Pot, which tried to wipe out the knowledge and the elite of the country by killing more than 2,000,000 innocents, was the last chapter hindering the proud nation of the Khmer to fully develop and regain the benefits of the past to be led into a new and bride future.
Art and Culture from Cambodia
Several generations share the same roof, the same rice and the same religion as life in Cambodia is mainly centered on family, food and faith.
Belonging to a family is more than we know in the western world; everyone from 3rd cousins to obscure aunts, as long as there is a bloodline there is a bond.
In Cambodia the people are very friendly and welcoming.
Religion is another very important column in the life of the Cambodians. Almost every house would have its own little shrine and everyone is very spiritual and praying not only at the shrines but also the temples and pagodas.
Therefore, the monks collecting donations in the street from the people – bowing in order to show their respect to the monks – is a very common picture all over the country.
Religion and Beliefs
To understand Cambodia one has to understand its religion.
Ninety five percent of the very religious and traditional population belongs to the Buddhism, affecting everyday life. Buddhist monks belong to the landscape in the big cities like Phnom Penh as much as they do to the countryside where they often fulfill the extra duty of being teacher and doctor besides being the spiritual guide.
In the mornings it is a common procedure that the monks will go from house to house to collect offers for the temples in order for the population to find spiritual healing.
The two main religious streams of Buddhism (Theravada & Mahayana) are both established in Cambodia where as the more popular Theravada-Buddhism is mainly spread among the Khmer.
Former practiced forms like natural religions and Brahmanism are still an important element of today’s beliefs of the Khmer. Deeply rooted ancestor worship and the belief in spirits are relics from the turn of the millennium more than a thousand years ago.
Also the Devaraya cult, belief in the god king, gives the king of Cambodia even today especially spiritual power and status.
Flavours of Cambodia
Due to the history of Cambodia with many different influences of the Chinese, Malaysian, Vietnamese and French it is hardly possible to identify the typical Khmer cuisine as it is more a mixture of different flavors which have been established in Cambodia.
However, without a doubt rice is the staple food and to be served with every meal even for breakfast.
Due to the great rivers, Lake Tonle Sap and the coastline in the south, fish is also a very important dish for Cambodians. It is prepared and served in every possible way; raw, fried, dried, smoked, grilled, and in the soup. Furthermore where ever you will go being close to the water means you will be able to purchase fresh seafood. From crab to squid and from fish to shrimps, everything is sold on the market and or freshly prepared in the streets and restaurants.
Popular and delicious dishes are amok – either chicken or fish cooked in coconut milk with curry and herbs, all kind of soups and obviously fish in every possible way.
Not a common meal but popular as a snack is fried tarantula, cockroaches, bugs or ants. Nothing the Western stomach would be familiar with but very well liked among the local people and for those of tourists with a more adventurous spirit.
Frankly, the Cambodian cuisine can be regarded as a cuisine for Asia starters as it is not as hot and spicy as for example the Thai or Indian cuisine and possibly not as extravagant as the Chinese cuisine. If you are not sure what to eat just ask the local people in the restaurant, they will surely be willing to give you a kind recommendation on what is special and good today.
Cambodians traditionally greet each other by pressing their hands together in front of their bodies and bowing. In recent decades, this custom has partially replaced the Western practice of shaking hands. But although men tend to shake hands with each other, women usually use the traditional greeting with both men and women. It is considered acceptable for foreigners to shake hands with Cambodians of both sexes.
A friendly and decent behavior is very common among the Khmer and is therefore also expected from the foreigners.
Loud speaking and shouting as in an act of emotional overreacting is deeply unliked and totally inappropriate. Therefore for every negotiation and/ or dispute with Remok (Rickshaw) drivers or marketers the guest needs to stay calm. Every form of loud arguing or shouting will be ignored and most possibly the people will turn the back on you.
Even though Cambodia has a very hot and humid climate women are requested not to wear too short pants, bodies, or strapless t-shirts outside the more tourist areas. Therefore, skinny-dipping or naked basking by women is strictly prohibited at the beaches as it is totally against the culture and beliefs of the Khmer who you will most of the time be seen in the water fully clothed.
In contrast, a man swimming in underwear is widely accepted and common among the Khmer.
When entering a local house, shoes are taken off at the door; this also applies for pagodas and temples.
Khmer culture is obviously completely different from any other western cultures therefore it is recommended that before entering Cambodia or any other Asian country you should familiarize at least a bit with local culture, belief, customs and etiquette.
Holidays and Festivals
Mid April: Bonn Chaul Chhnam (Khmer New Year)
The New year’s festival spans three days following the end of the harvest season. Khmers clean and decorate their houses with altars for offerings. Then they play traditional games such as Angkunh, Chaol Chhoung, Leak Kansaeng and tug of war.
13–15 May: HM the King’s birthday.
The newly appointed King His Majesty Preah Bat Samdech Preah Boromneath Norodaom Sihamoni celbrates his birthday with a three day public holiday
May: Bonn Chroat Preah Nongkoal.
The Royal Plowing Ceremony is the inauguration of the planting season. The plowing ceremony is performed by a man. King of Meakh, who leads the yoke and plough, followed by a woman, Queen Me Hour, who sows seeds. After thrice circling the rice field, the procession stops at a chapel where Brahmins invoke the protection of the Gods. The sacred cows are unharnessed and guided to seven silver trays containing rice, corn and other foods. Based on their choice, predictions are made for the coming year.
End of September/early October: Bonn Dacca Ben & Bonn Pchoum Ben.
The Spirits Commemoration Festival is held for the spirits of the dead. Bonn Dak Ben – the offering of food to the monks – lasts for 15 days. The 15 day of the ceremony – the full moon – is called Bonn Phchoum Ben, the collection of the bens (offerings). During this celebration, if departed souls do not find their family making offering at a Wat, it is believed that the soul is cursed and will bother the descendent throughout the year.
October: Bonn Kathen
The 29-day religious festival is marked by town and country folks marching in procession to the Wat where the Monks are waiting to change their old saffron robes for new ones offered during the festival. The ceremony brings spiritual merit to both lay people and the monks.
31 October–1 November: HM the retired King’s birthday.
His Majesty Preah Bat Samdech Norodom Sihanouk Varman, the retired King of Cambodia, was born on 31 October 1922 in Phnom Penh. Every year his birthday is celebrated in regal fashion and the entire nation joins in to honour their King.
9 November: Independence day.
Independence day, the date Cambodia achieved independence from France in 1953, is marked by a parade with floats and spectacles highlighting the nation’s achievements.
Early November: Bonn Om Touk
The Water Festival, which ushers in the fishing season and marks the reversing of the current in the Tonle Sap river, is a spectacle to behold. At the height of the rainy season, the water in the Mekong river flows with such power that it backs up into the Tonle Sap river, forcing the Tonle Sap to reverse its current and begin flowing northward to the Great Lake. As the water level begins to subside, the current reserves again. The festival draws tens of thousand of people to the river banks to watch longboat races, fireworks and a lighted flotilla of boats under the full moon.